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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Cabbage patch quilt

The sewing which I had planned for Sunday finally got done this evening. I just had seven blocks to stitch together before I could start on laying out the quilt.

Snowball quilt layout

I tried my best not to overthink the arrangement of the blocks. I just laid out one vertical strip of 6 different blocks - trying to get a good balance between the dark and lighter blocks - and then laid out the other 3 strips offset by one block.

I'm really happy with the way that the pink/red blocks balance at opposite corners and I love the dark green stripe across the middle.

I'll lose some of the area to seaming but I think that it should work out single bed size (or as a runner for the base of a double bed) once I've put a border on.

Snowball quilt layout - detail

I'll take some better close-up shots of the individual blocks once it's sewn together as these photos don't really do the fabrics justice.

Of course some of my motivation for getting this done (aside from working with the lovely fabrics) comes from checking out the Rowan fabrics at liberty the other weekend. It looks like we'll be making another trip to the Festival of Quilts at the NEC this summer and I can't justify buying more fabric until I've finished the two quilts currently on the go.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Bead games

Yesterday was another packed Saturday. I caught an early train to London and squeezed in a visit to my sister and the baby before extending my knowledge of London's public transport system and getting two buses to White Hart Lane to see Bolton play against Spurs. Luckily the stewards on the turnstile, whilst objecting to my bottle cap, had no issues with my 2.5mm dpns so I was able to knit away some of the pre-match tension.

sock at White Hart Lane

When I got back to Oxford, having a half hour to kill before my bus home, I dropped into Borders to discover a lovely glossy stack of the Spring/Summer issue of Vogue Knitting. I was just flicking through to see if it met the four pattern criteria for purchase when I spotted this, squeezed in between an item on knitting retreats in Blackpool and Rachael Matthews' Analogue Amnesty.

Missability in Vogue

Missability in Vogue Knitting! Just how cool is that?

This made the four patterns thing pretty much a moot point which is lucky as whilst there aren't four things I want to knit, there is most definitely one thing I want to knit - the Kaffe Fasset "In Full Bloom" jacket.

In Full Bloom

It's gorgeous (and not shaped like a tent) and it's gone straight in my Ravelry queue. It's also knit from Rowan Pure Wool DK (which you might have noticed I like a lot) so no worries about substituting yarns or matching colours.

I had today pencilled in for getting out the sewing machine and putting in some much overdue work on the quilt blocks but as Katie remarked in the comments to the last post, I do have a tendency to get distracted by shiny things and I had a very pleasant afternoon making things out of the beads and fixings that I bought last weekend in London.

After a couple of hours work, this ...


... had turned into these.

Black stitch markers

Green stitch markers

Beaded necklace

The green beads are dyed turquoise and the orange are carnelian and both are from Buffy's Beads off Carnaby Street.

I'm keeping the necklaces but I've popped the stitch markers onto cards to be given as gifts as I think I may just have enough for my own use at the moment.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Naming and shaming

Today's Messy Tuesday post is dedicated to Felix, the originator of all this blog sponsored untidiness.

I know I posted a photo of my stash corner a couple of weeks ago for messy Tuesday but I feel that the situation down there has escalated to such an extent that it merits a further post. The thing has developed its own topography. In this view you can just see past Unmatched Needle Mountain into Tangled Yarn valley and the treacherous shores and murky deeps of Lake UFO.

overgrown stash

overflowing knitting bag

neglected projects

Talking of which I thought that if I fished a few objects out of said lake it might prompt me (moved by a sense of righteous shame) to do something about them.*

Pattern: Print of the Wavw
Yarn: Lorna's Laces Helen's Lace
Date cast on: March 2007
Date last worked on: August 2007
Target finish date: August 2008
Sense of shame: monumental


I thought I'd start with the worst transgressor in an attempt to end on an upbeat note. The main body of the stole is complete but I've only knit about 50 (I think) rows of edging out of an estimated 1000+ (my fault for knitting it longer than spec.). Initially I just got overfaced by the thought of picking this up and then I kind of just forgot about it. I've set a target finish date of August 2008. It's not completely insane and it would be lovely to wear this in a sunny September with jeans and a white shirt.

Pattern: Anya
Yarn: Kid Classic, Kid Silk Haze, Kid Silk Night
Date cast on: Christmas 2006
Date last worked on: January 2008
Target finish date: Christmas 2008 (can you see a pattern emerging here?)
Sense of shame: burning


The Anya sweater was meant to be ready to wear last Christmas but progress was interrupted by work on the Peacock shawl and last minute Christmas knitting. I'm not as concerned about this as I am about POTW as I know that whenever I do pick it up it fairly flies along. Christmas 2008 is an achievable target and I'd love to have it ready by the time the cold weather kicks in (which in Britain is ususually in the middle of August, hee).

Pattern: Sheep Yoke Baby Cardigan #2
Yarn: Rowan Pure Wool DK
Date cast on: April 2008
Date last worked on: April 2008
Target finish date: May 2008
Sense of shame: very mild

sheep yoke baby cardigan #2

This only needs the sheep's faces stitching on before I block it and sew on the buttons. There's no particular hurry on this one as the intended wearer is still a work in progress.

Pattern: Thelonious by Cookie A.
Yarn: Louet Gems Opal
Date cast on: March 2008
Date last worked on: April 2008
Target date: June 2008
Sense of shame: deep

thelonious sock

I'm afraid I committed the ultimate sin as far as this sock is concerned in that I removed the poor things needles to use for another project. Sock #1 is 75% done and I really like the pattern, it's just that I wanted to cast on these:

Pattern; Merry Jane shoes
Yarn: Rowan Cashsoft DK/4 ply & Rowan Pure Wool DK/Jaeger Matchmake 4 ply
Date cast on: April 2008
Date last worked on: April 2008
Target finish date: May 2008
Sense of shame: blush

merry jane #1

merry jane #2

These haven't been in the neglected pile for too long so the shame is mainly coming from the fact that until I pulled them out of the bag earlier I had honestly forgotten about them. This is what happens when I don't Ravel stuff.

Pattern: Tatami and Minimalist cardigan
Yarn: Oxford Kitchen Yarns DK in latte/biscuit
Dates cast on: February 2008/April 2008
Dates last worked on: March 2008/April 2008
Target finish date: erm../July 2008
Sense of shame: justly felt


minimalist cardigan

The observant amongst you might notice that these are knit from the same yarn. That's right, a bad case of pattern envy led to me and the yarn fooling around with the Minimalist cardigan behind the Tatami's back. What started out as a brief flirtation has developed into a full blown fling. I suspect that it's going to be curtains for the Tatami although not immediately. It is a truth universally acknowledged that a cheater always cheats. Despite only casting on the Minimalist cardigan on Thursday, by Saturday evening I had two fresh projects on the needles.

Yarn: Artesano Alpaca 4 ply (pattern tbc)
Date cast on: last Saturday
Date last worked on: last Sunday
Target finish date: July 2008
Sense of shame: none (it's for someone else)

mums scarf

I was on the look out for some soft red yarn for a scarf for my mum and this leapt out at me whilst at iknit on Saturday. This is still at the swatching stage. I've started off with the Little pyramids pattern but I need to block it and maybe try out a few others to see what will best suit the yarn.

Pattern: Hopscotch socks
Yarn: Regia 4 ply
Date cast on: last Saturday
Date last worked on: today
Target finish date: April 2008 (strictly speaking I only need to knit one as it's a test knit)
Sense of shame: mild

yellow hopscotch sock

Although it is knit with brand new yarn bought at Liberty on Saturday (naughty) and knit on new needles as I couldn't wait to get home before casting on (v. bad) this project is somewhat redeemed by being the long postponed final test knit for my first real sock pattern. I finally sat down at the computer on Monday and typed out a good copy incorporating all Katie's comments and corrections and I'm carefully knitting through it now. One good thing about putting this off for so long is that I no longer know the pattern by heart so it should be a much better test knit than if I'd got around to it sooner. Thank goodness that there are some benefits to procrastination.

* Please note that I am but skimming the surface here. I don't actually have time to go through everything that's lying about in a neglected state in my "to do" pile.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Crochet your way to a slimmer you!

I'd thought that my general feeling off health, fitness and well-being today was due to the 5 mile run that I managed yesterday* but it turns out that it was actually an adipose baby.


I chased this little chap for a couple of laps around the bathroom before he hopped out of the window and headed off to the mother ship.

ooooh *shrinks back against side of sink*

bye bye!

Pattern: Amigurami Adipose Baby by Jennifer Christensen
Hook: 4mm
Yarn: Rowan Pure Wool DK
Ravelled: here

I used 6mm black beads for the eyes - btw, if any Bluestockings want to crochet their very own Amigurami Adipose Baby I have a whole pot full of these that you can use.

Modifications: none, unless you count that I forgot to read the errata note for the feet but they still seem to have worked out fine.

* The cold-that-time-forgot seems much better and I'm back in training (yay).

Ready? Say awww

It's easy to spot the knitter amongst a group of people watching TV or a film. The knitter is the one who, after seeing anything particularly cute or cool (whether knitted or no), has an abstracted look on their face as they ponder "how can I make me one of those from yarn?". As soon as I saw the first adipose baby pop out in last week's Dr. Who I knew I wanted one of the little critters for my own and started wondering what existing pattern I could adapt or whether I'd have to write my own from scratch. Luckily, knitters all over seem to have had the same idea and by the time I checked on Ravelry there were four to choose from (the number has since gone up!). I picked the Amigurami Adipose Baby by Jennifer Christensen as I thought it was the cutest and I haven't done much crochet for a while.

I picked up the supplies (2 balls of Rowan Pure Wool DK, 4mm crochet hook, black 6mm beads and soft fibre fill) at John Lewis yesterday and got going.

Rowan Pure Wool DK and notions

The pattern was very easy to follow and I got the body done yesterday evening.

Adipose Baby - WIP

The cheeky smile is going to have to wait until I get back home to where the black embroidery floss lives.

Next up, a project which didn't quite manage a WIP post before it was finished. My sister found the first boat neck sweater so useful that she requested another, this time in blue.

Boat Neck Baby Sweater #2

Laurie in Boat Neck Sweater #2

Pattern: Boat Neck Sweater
Source: Baby Knits for Beginners by Debbie Bliss
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran (2 and a half balls)
Ravelled: here

As well as working on our own knitting the Bluestockings have been knitting away on a secret project for the last few weeks. It was finally revealed at our last get together on Wednesday.

Felix's Bluestocking blanket

This is a blanket for Felix (who is in hospital for an operation just at the moment). All the Bluestockings helped to knit squares and we had a big sewing up session at Lara's last Saturday. Felix seemed pretty chuffed with the blanket.

Felix's Bluestockings blanket

She really liked the fact that she could recognise yarn from all our projects of the last few months in the different squares.

(Apologies for the state of the photos - I only had my crappy camera phone. You can see much better photos over on Abstar's World.)

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

FO - squishy cream bootees

[The colour's not really showing up here - they're definitely more cream than white in reality.]

These were super quick to knit and - assuming they meet with approval - I'll be knitting some more so will try to write up the pattern. They took roughly half a ball of Rowan Pure Wool DK so they're great for stash busting too!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Lightening quick bootees

Ringing up my mum last night to report on the progress of baby's new jumper I was greeted, not so much with delighted praise as an enquiry as to whether or not I had forgotten about baby's cream bootees. These had been mentioned the other week and were now absolutely essential as baby has a new dress and requires cream bootees to complete the ensemble.

I hadn't exactly forgotten, but they had gone on the back burner as I wasn't really sure what size they should be. Luckily there was a bootee to hand for mum to measure and I was able to get to work on whipping up a pair from the leftover Rowan DK from the sheep cardigans.


This is just a basic bootee recipe - knit a tube, knit an instep on one third of the stitches, pick up along the sides and decrease for the sole - but the knit and purl stripes make them beautifully squidgy and soft.

There are eyelet holes for a ribbon to secure them and I'm going to check King's after work for some little ribbon flowers for the finishing touch.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Winter warmers

On the way back from our tramp round the park in the melting snow yesterday afternoon the boyfriend and I decided that we needed something warming with our afternoon tea.

These lemon puddings barely take longer to make than shop-bought ones do to heat up and they're so much more satisfying.

Lemon puds

We didn't have two microwaveable pudding bowls in the right size so we used tea-cups - just make sure you leave plenty of room (about two inches) to allow them to rise without overflowing.

Lemon pudding

You can find the recipe here.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Nice weather for ptarmigans

Spring may have arrived in New York but it's been and gone again here in Oxfordshire. We were promised a "snow event" by the BBC but the last time they said that it was just a few flakes so I was thrilled to look out of the window and see this:

Snowy tree

I have a similar reaction to snowfall as the kid in The Snowman so I pulled on my warmest woolly socks and sweater (both coincidentally knit from the same Kilcarran Donegal Aran tweed) and headed out to explore.

I was the first person out into the water meadows this morning but mine weren't the only tracks in the snow.

mysterious tracks

I'm not a good enough tracker to identify these with certainty but I'm pretty sure that they're pheasant (given that the place is crawling with them).

Snowy bridge

There's nothing quite like a snowy scene with absolutely no footprints but your own.

Snowy lake

When I got into the great park the scene was ridiculously perfect, right down to the single swan (alas with its head down just at this point) that drifted into shot right on cue. I love the effect of snowy branches en masse, they create a kind of snow haze in the background.

The park was full of slightly pissed off looking pheasants looking even more visible than usual against the bright snow - I bet they wish they had snow plumage.

Snowy pheasant

Snowy palace

Even at half past eight in the morning there were a few kids taking advantage of the landscaping to go sledging. Luckily the slope evens out long before they hit either the water or an electric fence!

Snowy village

The snow has a transformative effect on animate as well as inanimate objects. The sheep which normally look so white against the green grass take on rather a yellowish tinge.

Snowy sheep

I did try taking a few self-portraits of my warmest sweater (which is pre-blog and pre-Ravelry) but the camera just couldn't cope with the contrast between my red sweater and the snow and the whole thing got very over exposed (the effect really wasn't helped by my wearing a white hat either!). Maybe later when I go out to play in the snow again!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Baby knitting production line

The Sheep Yoke Baby Cardigan #2 is nearly completed.

Sheep Yoke Baby Cardigan #2

Just one sleeve and the button bands to go. I'm hoping to get buttons for both cardigans at King's fabrics tonight.

Luckily the quandary of what to knit next has been resolved for me by a request from my sister for another boat neck sweater (from Baby Knits for Beginners), this time in blue.

Cashmerino aran

I wasn't able to get navy in the right yarn but I think that this deep blue (which is not really showing up correctly in this photo) will be very flattering. Not that baby actually needs to make any effort to look adorable!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

No mess to report

April Fool!! Actually there's lots of mess as always.

Overflowing laundry basket

Some of it due to that fact that when I get home from work or running I just don't feel like doing housework, some due to the fact that doing laundry in the evenings is not terribly neighbourly (the spin cycle makes a heck of a racket) and some of a more longstanding nature.

Broken drawer

The sock drawer has been on its last legs for some time now. I haven't been able to shut it in ages as the bottom is sagging due to overloading and last week the front came off at one side. The overloading is due to the fact that despite having a dozen plus pairs of lovely hand knit socks I still haven't cut the cord and put out the cotton ones for recycling.

Of course some of the mess is due to the fact that I've been doing some lovely knitting instead of the washing up.

I'm racing along on the second Sheep Yoke Baby Cardigan - the bottom ribbing is nearly done.

Sheep Yoke Baby Cardigan # 2

This one is looking even better than the first (practice making perfect). The flowers look rather neater done in stranded knitting rather than duplicate stitch and the intarsia sheep worked out great, although darning in the ends did seem to take forever.

Sheep Yoke Baby Cardigan # 2 detail

I'm having serious thoughts about a grown-up version for myself. I just need to decide what yarn. I have 10 balls of Wensleydale Longwool 4 ply in suitably sheepy colours but I do have a hankering for a natural shades chunky version. I think that the maths would be easier (although I'm not quite naive enough to think I can upsize just by knitting the baby version on bigger needles!) and Sirdar have a reasonably inexpensive single ply in just the right shades of sheep.